Three is the number of those who do holy work;
Two is the number of those who do lover’s work;
One is the number of those who do perfect evil
Or perfect good
-From the notes of a monk
of the Order of St. Oco;
his name unknown
This epigraph opens up the prologue. It’s credited to an unknown monk, much like many of the epigraphs. They’re in-universe quotes, but most of the time I will just credit them to Clive Barker. The prologue of book one is called The Mission. It begins with three women who are doing some sort of holy work.
The theme for this week is the Twenty-Fifth Hour, called the Time Out Of Time, Whence, Lud, and Odom’s Spire.
These three women are Diamanda, Joephi, and Mespa. They are called the Sisters of the Fantomaya. Since they are the first characters we’re introduced to, I’ve made an article specifically for them. On TVTropes, they’re called the Abarat version of The Hecate Sisters, a common trope seen in many forms of stories of three women, one young, one middle, and one old. It’s not extremely evident to me that this is a good comparison. Diamanda fits the profile of the old, serious one, but Joephi is not “ditzy” or “innocent” as the young one often is. Joephi is wild-looking. Mespa may or may not be motherly; she carries the night sky in her eyes.
More easily the can be associated with the Moirae, the three sisters of Fate in Greek mythology. The Fantomaya seem to be connected to fate in the Abarat, though in the prologue they make it explicit that the influence they have shouldn’t really be done.
They appear to have different powers depending on nature and prayers. They pray to the moon, Lady Moon to be exact, and the response is the moonlight repairing their boat and bringing them safely across the sea in the middle of storm. Though nearly every appearance of these women is magical, they are nowhere near invulnerable. Diamanda was once married to a very mortal man. They have one of the most bittersweet reunions I’ve ever read about. I’ll leave it at that.
Somehow these women are connected to the Twenty-Fifth Hour, one of the biggest and still unexplained mysteries of the series so far. It is described as being a Time Out Of Time, a place where “Everything is Here. Everything is Now. Even Yesterday.” The job of the Fantomaya is unclear, but it seems to be studying and protecting all the mysteries of the Twenty-Fifth Hour. I’ve read each book at least twice, and I don’t have a good prediction about what lies there. I eagerly await the day Abarat IV: The Price of Dreams comes out. And when the series finishes in general.
So there you have, very little information on three very mysterious women. More will be revealed of their purpose and intents in the coming volumes, I hope. For now, I believe that while they are powerful, they are not to be seen as goddesses. They are mortal, and can make mistakes. One mistake that our main character Candy notices is their lack of judgement for certain people, one they see as evil and the other as good. The evil one, Christopher Carrion, can be debated. While the other, the good one, well I don’t want to spoil anything. But it was not at all what I expected of a princess. But more on that later…